Guns, Our Descent into Barbarism

Social IssuesCulture

  • Author Arthur Gevarnick
  • Published September 4, 2022
  • Word count 1,175

Guns… Our Descent into Barbarism

On May 24, 2022 nineteen children and two teachers were executed in Uvalde, Texas by a disaffected teenager civilian armed with an assault rifle and over 1600 rounds of ammunition. This occurred over a period of seventy-seven minutes when students were murdered in their third and fourth grade classrooms while nearly four hundred police officers on site did what police officers do best “loudly assert their authority while spinning their wheels.” Later the world got to witness over a dozen police officers in retreat from the noise of gunshots in the hallway, while the children, feet away, were being summarily executed. Not their finest moment.

Uvalde marked the 249th mass-shooting incident in America during 2020 thus far, as defined by those where “four or more people” are murdered with a privately-owned gun. While many take the attitude that a country as populous as ours has “people to spare” and this is simply the price we pay for having gun freedom, such an unspeakable callousness would make Jesus roll over in his grave. For if that is true then we are no better than the worst tyrants, the worst autocrats, the worst religious fanatics in history.

We as a nation have long been proud of our guns. We first used them to defeat then supplant the indigenous population whose land we now occupy. Later we used our rifle to protect the farm and to provide food from the bounty which nature then provided. Then we rose up, bore arms and thwarted the colonial powers who had designs on land we now considered ours. We fought two world wars and a string of smaller wars; no less costly for the participants. We enshrined the right to bear arms in our second amendment, whose writers could not have anticipated the insanity of present circumstances. Our forefathers would have never given a farmer a cannon; Everyman then being entitled to own a single shot musket.

During the 1950’s boys in rural America would routinely walk to school carrying their .22 rifles or shotguns, then lean them against the building outside the school as they went in. No one thought anything of it. They would hunt rabbits or pheasants on the way home. Not one of them would have ever dreamt of bringing those weapons inside. Society is different today. Common sense does not prevail. Slick marketers now sell children video games where they can, daily, practice killing scores of people. By channel surfing you can now watch someone being murdered on TV every few minutes. Anyone who thinks that this doesn’t have an affect on a formative mind is delusional.

Ours is a society that worships at the feet of advertising. And that advertising has long been assisted by psychology, that social science with a history of aligning itself with advertising, supporting their efforts in the production of carefully crafted distortion then used to exploit our wants and needs every day of our lives, 24/7. And now we see on TV ads depicting unprincipled politicians brandishing assault weapons in front of the cameras to cull votes, while the children of the most recent mass shooting are still being buried. We should put on our flag, “Short-term profit” and right below it, “Anything for a Dollar”, next to a big cross and a renaissance picture of God giving his “Wink of Approval”.

On one side of the issue there is the real and present danger that if an autocrat usurped democracy and seized power, he would have to be deposed by an armed insurrection; thus the need for all those guns. And recent events have borne out just how easily that scenario could happen. But the truth of the matter is, when an autocrat takes over a country, they transform in into a two class system comprised of the oppressors and the oppressed. As autocrats cannot rule alone, you can imagine who would benefit while millions of others were being shipped off to camps or being outright murdered.

And then there is the argument, “if guns were outlawed, then only criminals would have guns,” but that is really and argument against all laws. Tell that to the people of Australia whose gun laws work, who don’t suffer the mass shootings we do because they trust their government. Coincidentally, that trust translated into Australians having an extremely low Covid death rate during the recent pandemic when the vast majority of Australians got vaccinated believing that “they did not have the right to endanger their fellow citizens.”

I like to think that cooler heads will prevail, that our own oligarchs, the billionaires, will find it mutual interest in maintaining the stability of our system, as in maintaining their wealth. If not, they can always move to Russia. We absolutely must jealously guard our educational system and not allow it to be subverted by any one religion. The founding fathers were clear on that. They formed this nation to escape such oppression. Moral authorities, once in power, show a long history of adopting the expedient whereby “the ends justify the means.” Education is the one and only clear protection we have against the rise of tyranny and it must be jealously guarded.

Hopefully and prayerfully, some common sense, some social responsibility may emerge. This country so bristles with guns that they now outnumber people. How many is enough ? We already look like fools to the rest of the world, and what further ramifications will that bring.. The world fears our military might but, aside from that, does not respect us. At what point will we begin to lose our self-respect..

For those living in the fact-based universe America need not be a lost cause. We need not harken back to a fundamentalist’s imagined utopia, where everything was “great” providing the “right people” had their say. People can still have a voice and if enough of them use it they can become an agent for positive change. The people of Earth, our country included, through an extraction economy have created existential threats that may doom our progeny to a withered existence at best and threaten their survival at worst. History suggests that divine intervention may not be forthcoming. While great swaths of the population cling to the spiritualism of the dark ages, it will be for the brightest and the best among us to find creative solutions out of this dilemma. For the rest of us, it will be our part to do our part, to make our best effort to be good citizens of the world, good neighbors, to care for one another and jettison the extreme tribalism and selfishness. While our religious nuts are clamoring to end birth control, two billion of the Earths overpopulation are starving. Our scientists tell us that 99% of all species that ever walked this Earth have gone extinct. Unless we want our time to draw to a close we must act responsibly. The words of H. G. Wells were never truer, “Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.”

Arthur Gevarnick

Former navy pilot, retired VA dentist, likes to read, play chess, and fly fish.

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